births and deaths aboard aircraft / ships - legals

These occurrences are rare, but for the purposes of birth and death certificates, in what municpality did the event take place? The destination city? or someplace in between? If someplace in between … what happens if it occurs over a body of water, or some other undesignated, or unclaimed space? (For aircraft, assuming the event occurred before the pilot could bring the plane to an airport for an emergency landing.)

As a side note, are there any statistics for these kinds of events?

All I could find on a quick search was this, which was on a Mass. State Law site. (

From this it sounds like “the town at which his airplane first arrives after such birth”. Now, this is in Massachusetts, so I don’t know if this applies anywhere else.

Why on earth would a Massachussets law be in force outside Massachussets?

In Newfoundland, the Vital Statistics Act has a catch-all clause that allows for the registration of a birth or death outside the province for any reason that the registrar sees fit the birth or death ought to be registered. Nova Scotia provides for the registration of births or deaths on ships whose registry is in NS, but nothing about planes. New Brunswick has a similar provision, but also includes births or deaths on planes or ships whose first landing after the birth or death is in NB.

The other provinces I tried to look up are either cheap bastards who make you pay, had annoying web sites, or in the case of Quebec I couldn’t for the life of me find a keyword that returned what I was looking for.

Oddly enough, I have an answer for this. My mother is a surgeon and years ago when the Sytmar cruise line was still around (they were bought out by Princess), my mother used to get free cruises signing on as a ship’s doctor for a period of a month at a time

She did their Alaska cruise run that goes back and forth between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska. As you might guess, with all the old people that take these cruises, it was only a matter of time until this happened…

One night during the evening floor show, and older man in the audience died of a heart attack on the spot. My mother pronouced him dead and to my knowledge, it was declared as having occurred in Alaska. At the time, of course, the ship was at sea, but only a few miles from the coast, and clearly still in US (Alaska) waters which made it a simple issue. The body, of course, was removed at the next city which (if memory serves me) was Ketchikan, and flown out on a small plane along with the (unfortunate) widow.